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Catching glimpses of the Kingdom of God

Something beautiful happened the last Sunday afternoon of June at Farmville Presbyterian Church. “What a fellowship. What a joy divine, leaning on the everlasting arms,” filled the room bringing to close a time of worship together in my installation as the pastor of the church.

Dr. Pete Smith

This was the conclusion of a rich celebration of folk from across our community and our region seeking to reflect more the richness of all of God’s children. Voices, lives and spirits joined together in the celebration of God’s grace and the witness of what I can only say was the Kingdom of God. Were there sisters and brothers missing? Of course. Were we working to give the world something better? Absolutely. Was the body of Christ alive and well in our company? By the grace of God.

When people talk about the Kingdom of God, it can be a little confusing or strange simply because we have no working knowledge of kings or kingdoms. We cannot identify at all with what it is like to live with someone wielding that kind of power, and yet, Jesus came proclaiming this more than anything else. He announced it, described it, demonstrated it and told parables about it. On the other hand, he really only expressed “church” one time (Matthew 16:18). Clearly, the Kingdom of God or of Heaven (same thing) was what was on his mind and heart. It was what he came to usher in and to provide for us. It was what he gave to us to share.

The expansive view of God’s kingdom that welcomes the sinners, the outcasts and the least of society should always be the goal for any gathering of folk trying to follow our Lord. Jesus called this freedom to our attention in Luke 4. The kingdom is where people of all earthly “kingdoms” may find a home as Psalm 22 promises. The human distinctions that fuel our divisions melt away in God’s kingdom, and the world’s expectations are thrown on their head as Isaiah announces in chapter 65.

There are plenty of people who want to talk about God’s kingdom, but it seems less people are willing to seek it. This means living with each other in greater communion. It means finding safe space for reconciliation, forgiveness, compassion and joy. It means being open and honest, speaking the truth in love, and working for a truly better community. Farmville is blessed to have some wonderful ministries that are promoting this kingdom every day. Our churches exist for this purpose. We all continue to have a good way to go, though.

And yet, occasionally, we momentarily view something beautiful, something that looks more like the way life is supposed to be in our Lord. For these glimpses of the Kingdom of God, I give thanks, and I hope you do, too.

REV. DR. PETER SMITH is the pastor for Farmville Presbyterian Church. He can be reached at pastorfpc@centurylink.net.